USC football was back on Howard Jones Field for the sixth day of Fall Camp, focusing on special situations for the coming season.
There’s a saying that you hear over and over around USC football these days: Iron sharpens iron.
Helton didn’t use the phrase himself after practice on Wednesday, but he preached its message.
“We’re doing a lot of work together, offensively and defensively,” Helton said of not utilizing service teams so far in camp. “The quality of opponent we’re going to be playing this season, as many times as we can go against ourselves, quality work, good-on-good, I think it’s going to help us.”
Helton cites the out of conference slate of Alabama, Notre Dame and Utah State, along with the Pac-12 schedule as the reason he wants to do as much work with USC’s best going against their best.
SEE MORE: Freshman RB Vavae Malepeai Out 6-8 Weeks
“It helps when the man across from you may be as good as any body that you play,” said Helton, using the example of JuJu Smith-Schuster lining up across from Adoree’ Jackson, which give them the toughest opponent they’ll face all season.
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That’s not to say USC won’t be utilizing a service team, one Helton says will be quality on its own.
The Trojans can feel assured of that because of the greater depth level which has been the consistent talking point of fall camp.
Helton has seen that in the quarterback competition, in which they’ve tried to split up the first team reps between Max Browne and Sam Darnold as evenly as possible.
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Even then, it hasn’t been all that noticeable who is working with which unit.
“The one offensive line and two offensive line, there ain’t much difference between the two,” Helton chuckled, going on to point out the great depth USC has at skill positions which means both quarterbacks are surrounded by playmakers whether they’re running with the ones or the twos.
Three Stars of the Day
- Ajene Harris: Harris nearly intercepted Darnold and broke up a pass in the endzone intended for Michael Pittman.
- Iman Marshall: The sophomore cornerback continues to take on USC’s top receiver and lives to tell the tale. He had another interception and defended a deep pass to Smith-Schuster in the endzone.
- Matt Boermeester: Boermeester took almost ten kicks during the field goal period from progressively longer distances and made just about all of them.
From the Notebook
- Injury Update:
- Freshman running back Vavae Malepeai, who had his arm in a sling at practice, has a broken scapula and will miss six to eight weeks as a result.
- Safety Marvell Tell tweaked his hamstring and was held out for the remainder of practice as a precaution.
- Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga tweaked his toe.
- Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had his pinky finger in a brace, but was able to complete practice without a hitch.
- Walk on running backs James Toland and Chris Edmondson are both dealing with groin injuries.
- Kicker Michael Brown has a quad injury and didn’t kick.
- Defensive lineman Noah Jefferson had an MRI over the weekend, it came back clean. He’s seeing a specialist to help him with his back concerns.
- With Tell out, Chris Hawkins still limited by his own hamstring problem and John Plattenburg going through a concussion protocol, cornerback Deion Hart subbed in as a safety when Leon McQuay III was busy serving as the nickel back.
- Sophomore running back Dominic Davis also benefited from injuries around him. With Malepeai, Toland and Edmonson limited, Davis saw more live caries.
- Helton was pleased to see progress from Khaliel Rodgers (concussion), Chad Wheeler (foot), Jalen Greene (hamstring), and Justin Davis (hip/knee) easing back in to more action.
- Freshman cornerback Jack Jones worked on punt returns, but seemed to struggle catching the ball. Three slipped through his grasp, which had him doing push ups out on the field.
- Special teams coach John Baxter used a visual aid to show his kick block team where to attack the kick. He strung a length of rope from the middle of the field goal posts and drew it down to where the kicker would take his kick. He then instructed players to see where the trajectory of the ball would be from close, from far, from a right-footed kicker or left-footed kicker.
- Jordan Simmons and Chris Brown served as first team guards, leaving Viane Talamaivao and Damien Mama to work with the second team.
- Osa Masina and Michael Hutchings worked as the first team inside linebackers and lineman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu stayed with the ones whether in base or nickel formation.
- Porter Gustin and Oluwole Betiku had consecutive sacks on Browne.
- Leon McQuay and Ajene Harris both dropped interceptions of Darnold.
- Iman Marshall intercepted Browne.
- Toa Lobendahn botched two snaps to Darnold in the shotgun.
- Darnold made a nice play, scrambling right to get away from pressure then lobbing up a ball to DeQuan Hampton who had a big gain.
- Browne hit Smith-Schuster for a touchdown during the situational period. It was a five point game from the 25 yard line with two seconds on the clock.
- USC worked on screens, but whether the ball was going to a running back or tight end, they didn’t seem to work.
- Scouts for the Chargers, Texans, Eagles and Broncos were on hand.